An upsettingly high number of toddlers shoot themselves or others using guns every year in the United States. In fact, according to the Children Firearms Safety Alliance, 111 kids under the age of 7 picked up a firearm and unintentionally shot themselves or someone else in 2016.
In 2015, toddlers killed more Americans than terrorists.
However, despite all these troubling statistics, the Republicans in Wisconsin state assembly have passed a bill eliminating the minimum age restrictions on children hunting with guns — as long as a child is accompanied by a mentor, which typically means a parent or guardian.
Wisconsin already has lax gun laws. The bill, which awaits approval from the state senate and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, would overrule the current law that requires a child to be at least 14 years of age to hunt alone, while those between 12 and 13 can hunt in the presence of a parents or a guardian. However, they are supposed to obtain a hunting certificate first.
Meanwhile, kids between the ages of 10 or 11 can hunt without completing a safety course — only if they are taking part in “mentored hunt.”
Assembly Bill 45, which passed in the GOP-controlled assembly by 57-32, would also eliminate the requirement that the child and mentor have only one weapon between them.
“To allow ... a toddler, a 2-year-old [to carry a gun] — and I’m not being hyperbolic, because someone will allow it — is dangerous,” Democratic Rep. Katrina Shankland told the Associated Press. “Other hunters in the woods are not going to choose to get hurt by a child with a rifle.”
Three Republicans opposed the bill while four Democrats voted in its favor.
“It's just crazy (the minimum age) would go below 10,” said Democratic Rep. Gary Hebl. “Absolute insanity that we're talking about giving a kid a gun at any age so they experience the heritage of hunting. The most important factor is safety.”
Meanwhile, the Republicans claim they are “returning the choice to the parent” as to when they want to allow their children to hunt with guns,
The National Rifle Association also supported the bill. It also released a statement to “thank the Assembly members who helped pass this important piece of legislation to promote our hunting heritage.”
Thumbnail/Banner: Reuters, Jorge Silva